White Sox, Sale agree to five-year contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When White Sox left-hander Chris Sale met with reporters following his outing against the A's on Saturday, manager Robin Ventura had already told the southpaw he was going to be the club's Opening Day starter. But since the skipper hadn't made the announcement yet, Sale was forced to contain his excitement for another day.

On Sunday, however, the 23-year-old was able to talk about the honor given to him.

"My knees are shaking now just thinking about it," Sale said. "I'm definitely going to have to collect myself, stay focused and take a lot of deep breathes. The last couple of Opening Days, I've been a kid in a candy shop. And now, being part of it, it could be overwhelming, but I'm going to do everything to collect myself and stay on an even plane. You know it's going to be electric, though."

The Opening Day announcement came a little more than a week after Sale, who went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 2012, signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract with the White Sox.

"I called my dad the other day and said, 'When am I going to wake up?'" Sale said. "I'm certainly appreciative of everything. I know what's happened doesn't come to everybody."

Sale added that he will likely throw around 100 pitches in his next start before dialing it back in his final outing of the spring, which will give him six days of rest going into Opening Day on April 1 vs. the Royals.

Even if he didn't receive the nod, Sale said he would've left Spring Training with the same mindset, knowing every other starter in the rotation is fully capable.

"I'm really excited about it, just trying not to look too hard into it, not to make it bigger than it is," he said. "We have faith in everyone."

So far this spring, Sale has thrown 12 1/3 innings, allowing six runs while striking out eight.

Crain feeling confident after pitching in 'B' game

Crain on returning from strained adductor muscle

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Still making his way back from a strained right adductor, Jesse Crain was one of three White Sox arms on the 40-man roster who pitched in a "B" on Sunday against the Rockies at Camelback Ranch.

Crain, who hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since Feb. 25, tossed one inning, allowing two runs on two hits, including a home run. The reliever threw 17 pitches, nine of which went for strikes.

Despite the results, Crain felt good about his outing Sunday and thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day.

"I was a little nervous before, I didn't know how it would react, but today was a sign that it is healing and it is real close," Crain said. "It's definitely a step forward. The other day, I felt 80 percent [healthy], today I was up to about 90. I was just a little tentative mentally with a few pitches, so I was leaving some pitches up."

"He looked fine, he got through without any issues," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think you can project him getting back on track and getting into some games over here."

Crain also threw in a Minor League game on Friday and hopes to work again in the next couple of days.

"I think I'm very close, I'm just worried about feeling good, and not wanting to think about my leg when I'm out there," Crain said. "I still think about it a little bit, but as far from two days ago, it was a huge jump. Hopefully, next time I get back out there, I'll be even closer."

The right-hander boasted a 2.44 ERA over 48 innings last season for the White Sox.

Also pitching Sunday in the "B" game were Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago. Quintana gave up two runs while throwing 79 pitches over four innings, and Santiago tossed two frames and allowed a two-run homer.

"He's getting his innings in and getting his pitch count up," Ventura said of Quintana. "He's looking good. You want to make sure you get those guys stretched out."

Keppinger back in lineup with White Sox as DH

Outlook: Keppinger looks to repeat career year in '13

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Keppinger, recovering from right shoulder irritation, was in the lineup Sunday for the first time since March 9. White Sox manager Robin Ventura penciled Keppinger in the third slot in the order, playing designated hitter.

"I don't have an issue with my shoulder where it's going to be a problem all season long," Keppinger said. "I'm pretty sure it's taken care of and we'll move forward from here."

The White Sox planned for Keppinger to make his return Thursday, but he was later scratched because of a personal matter that made him leave camp for three days.

The third baseman, who could also see time at second base this spring, admitted he still has to work through some things, but he isn't worried about missing Opening Day.

"We still have another two weeks, there is plenty of time," Keppinger said. "That's why we play so long in Spring Training, to get ready. The more you can push through things, your body will adjust."

Before taking time off to heal his shoulder, Keppinger was swinging the bat well, collecting 10 hits in just 21 at-bats.

"I was feeling good, seeing the ball well," Keppinger said. "The game was starting to slow down. Hopefully I can come back and pick up where I left off."

Ventura said Keppinger will likely play in the field on Tuesday, "at third base hopefully."

Worth noting

• After originally being scheduled to catch Sunday, Tyler Flowers was scratched in the morning. He apparently is still nursing a stiff lower back. Flowers did, however, go through workouts with the team at Camelback Ranch.

Manager Robin Ventura said Flowers will play either Tuesday or Wednesday, but more likely Wednesday.

Flowers hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since Thursday against the Angels. In 19 at-bats this spring, he has six hits.

• While most of the team takes Monday off, Nate Jones and Jake Peavy will pitch in a simulated game against Los Angeles Dodgers Minor Leaguers in Glendale.